O.R. Melling,
The Hunter's Moon
(HarperCollins, 1993;
Puffin, 2000; Amulet, 2006)

The Hunter's Moon brings Canadian Gwen to visit her Irish cousin Findabhair, and the two 16-year-olds find more adventure than they bargained for while exploring the ancient Hill of Kings at Tara.

The girls have a wide-eyed, innocent belief in the existence of the Sidhe, the underhill faeries of Ireland, but that belief turns sour when the stories prove true.

Boldly going all over Ireland in a whirlwind tour of landmarks old and new, the girls learn that the Sidhe act with mischief often, but with malice rarely -- and they always enjoy a good game, even if it's at some hapless mortal's expense. When Findabhair is ensnared by their tricks, it's up to Gwen to pursue their trail and outwit the Fair Folk without bringing harm to her friend.

Of course, Gwen will learn that friends often turn up in unexpected places -- including among one's foes. And quests sometimes have a way of changing focus midstream. Before the book's conclusion, Gwen and her allies will face something far darker than the mischievous faeries.

The Hunter's Moon is standard fare for young readers, but it's a good read for adults, too. Author O.R. Melling has done her homework in researching modern and ancient Ireland. A first-time tourist could do worse than to visit the places mentioned in the book, from the bustling Galway and Dublin to the stark Burrens and mystical Tara. The book certainly left me feeling wistful for places I'd visited years ago.

Readers will also learn these very important points: never call a Canadian "American" and always carry a durable backpack on adventures.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.